Reviews: Gun Buster

A rough diamond

As the article states, Gunbuster is a flawed classic, important in anime history and good for nostalgia value, but it doesn't hold up too well anymore. This is one of those series that's not bad, per se, but I don't personally care much for it.

For starters, the plot is rather uneven and poorly paced. It feels like a TV series cut down to a few episodes. We jump from Noriko's training to space battles and then into the distant future suddenly, with the anime lingering on minor moments in between. Of course, time dilation is one of the key dramatic aspects of this series, and I applaud its use, but given the hasty character development it's kind of hard to get too wrapped up in the anguish.

I also got a little annoyed at Gainax's (Anno's?) deep ethnocentrism in this series. Although it isn't outright stated, Japan is clearly Ruler of the World, and most of its old military culture has been revived as well. The spaceships that are protecting the world from aliens have traditional Japanese tatami-matted rooms in the middle with go boards and everything. A council of Japanese men seems to hold power. It's all very old-fashioned and feels like wishful thinking from a nation fully recovered from World War II, unwilling to consider a multilateral world. (Jung Freud hardly counts as giving the show "diversity".)

Mostly, though, I have problems with the cheesiness. It's an '80s show from Gainax, and it's more interested in pandering to otaku than anything else. There's plenty of Fanservice, and some of it is egregious - does Noriko really have to tear off her shirt in her most dramatic scene? I also find the drama over-the-top and the mecha battles too short to really catch the imagination. But that's the whole point. Besides the series' impressive technobabble and shiny detail everywhere, it's really a huge dose of fanservice, and not meant to be taken seriously.

I can see why other people like this, and it is a pretty fun series to watch with nerdy friends. But it's not a personal favorite.